Hameed Abdul Kareem wrote to the Daily News of the 19 January, 2013 “ Defending Islam and Muslims” replying to an article by Shenali Waduge . She has foreseen such discontentment in saying in her article “….. the concerns of Buddhists are never given an unbiased voice in the mainstream media and instead Sinhalese Buddhists are labelled as “racist”, “extremist” and even “militant”.
Hameed Abdul Karim does just that calling Shenali Waduge’s article, “… the latest in a long series of scaremongering…..uncalled for vituperative remarks…..and calling her a version of Ausrtralia’s Pauline Hanson…” .
I thank Shenali Waduge for her article , “‘Laws and Religion: Some Concerns of Sinhala Buddhists’ which appeared in the Daily News of the 12 January,2013. It is time that Sinhala Buddhists make their voices heard without fearing to be called racists. Because it has become necessary for the Sinhala Buddhists to stand up to fight for their rights.
It had not been easy for Sinhala Buddhist. They had been pushed into the background by the Colonialists. Their culture and religion had been despised mutilated and dominated by Christianity and its missionaries. The Sinhalese had taken to foreign ways of living and education was provided in foreign missionary schools. The Buddhists were converted to Christianity in large numbers by the missionaries who accompanied the Colonial armies.
After independence the minorities demanded equal rights along with the Sinhala Buddhists. Their language was not accepted as the official language, their National flag was mutilated to make it represent the minorities. The Sinhala Buddhists had thus to keep on fighting to preserve what belonged to them.
It was under such circumstances that mostly the Sinhala Buddhists had to sacrifice their youth to preserve the unitary status of Sri Lanka and free the country from 30 years of suffering under terrorism. Despite that the Sinhala Buddhists are still prosecuted just for elimination of terrorism and bringing back peace and hope to the country.
For the Sinhala Buddhists there are still more fighting to do. It is now with the so far calm and a peaceful Muslim Community who had been cooperating with the Sinhala Buddhists . The Sri Lankan Muslims today are showing signs of change from what they had been before. There is a new trend in their development which shows sign of foreign fundamentalist Islamic influence gaining ground with them.
A short time back I was in Sri Lanka. I witnessed this manifestation of “don’t care” attitude of Muslims acting as if there are no one in the Sinhala areas where they have built three or four storied houses. They entertain, receive friends and relatives who come in their cars vans and three wheelers through out the nights tooting horns , shouting and laughing without caring the least that they are disturbing the neighbourhood, the young children and the students who keep awake to do their home work.
The Muslims live in Sinhala Buddhist neighbourhoods and slaughter animals in their homes on certain Muslim festive days with least concern for the sensibility of their Buddhist neighbours.
I was told of a Sinhala Buddhist man who was employed in a Muslim Business establishment who had to work from early in the morning to late in the evening while the Muslim employers stop work to pray five time a day. Yet this Sinhala Buddhist employee was given only a day’s holiday for the Wesak festival. He was compelled to stay at home the following day to take the children to the temple and attend to Wesak festivities. The day after when he went to work he was told that his services has been terminated.
Having lived all my life until about 1963 in a village next to a Muslim village in the Kandy District, studying with Muslim children some of them as my best friends, I found during my recent stay in Sri Lanka the change of attitude of the Muslims strange, and altogether different from what it had been when I knew them a long time ago.
Mr.Hameed Abdul Karim says, “ Ideally in a democracy there is no such thing as minority…..” Yes of course , there is no reason to treat minorities differently if they do not compete with the majority; if the minorities accept the same flag, the same language and the national anthem in the language of the majority. But it has not been the case with the Muslims in Sri Lanka, they want more pushing their religion and its ways unconcerned of the Sinhala Buddhists.
In this hitherto unknown new trend in the Muslim development in Sri Lanka, the Muslims of Sri Lanka themselves should take note of unknown forces of dangerous fundamentalism taking hold of the Muslims and Islamism of Sri Lanka.
In France there are no separate schools for the Muslim children. France banned the use of face covering veils for girls, and the full body covering Burqa, wearing of which is really a denial of the freedom of Muslim women under Sharia law or not, is also prohibited in France. In France there are no separate courts for the Muslims, and there is a law against female genital mutilation of Muslim girls.
In France there is no blaring of loudspeakers five times a day in the Mosques to call the believers for prayers.
In Sri Lanka the Muslims have been accorded all these facilities as Shenali Waduge had correctly pointed out in her article against which Hameed Abdul Karim had taken umbrage. The Muslims are carrying on a silent movement encroaching into the rights and priviledges of the Sinhala Buddhists to their advantage, desecrating Sri Lanka which had been offered to the Buddha, Dhamma his Doctrine and the Sangha his disciples by King Devanampiyatissa even before Islam had come into existence as a religion.
This is what democracy has given to Sri Lanka, an ungrateful minority asking for equality with the majority. Strangely this democracy Hameed Abdul Karim refers to does not exist in predominantly Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries of the Middle East. Sharia Law, Fatwa and Jihad are a far cry from democracy. That is what people like Hameed Abdel Karim wants in Sri Lanka.
The Muslims the world over are using their religion to prepare a political system with a world leadership secretly in view, increase the Muslim population through births and conversion.
Hameed Abdul Karim does not seem to be aware even of the vandalising of ancient Buddhist sites and bulldozing of Digavapi and occupying temple land by Muslims. http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items07/061107-5.html.
Hameed highlights the cases of Buddhist treasure hunters, to down play the occupation of Buddhist land by Muslims. There was the recent case of a Mosque being built on temple land in Dambulla. Racism is different from being concerned about the erosion of the rights and priviledges of the Sinhala Buddhists.
Jathika Hela Urumaya was criticised for the Buddhist Monks taking to politics, but JHU was fulfilling a necessary role for the defence of the Sinhala Buddhists, Buddhism and its priviledges, which had been left without protection. The Sinhala Buddhists should be made aware of the necessity of a Buddhist political movement like the JHU to defend the rights and priviledges of the Buddhists and protect what belongs to the Buddhists.
In a like situation in 1950 when Buddhism was under attack by the Catholic Church, we had a strong dedicated Sinhala Buddhist leadership which lost no time to come forward to defend the rights of the Sinhala Buddhists by organising the Bauddha Jathika Balawegaya.. Today such a Buddhist leadership has become an imperative necessity.
The new movement of a Muslim leadership in Sri Lanka is becoming a threat to Sinhala Buddhists. It demands the revival of the Bauddha Jathika Balawegaya. Even if any Sinhala Buddhist who comes forward to defend their cause is immediately attacked as a Sinhala racist- a Pauline Hanson, it has nevertheless become a necessity for Sinhala Buddhists to be alive to the lurking danger to their existence as Sinhala Buddhists.
Sharia Law, as correctly pointed out by Shenali Waduge is perhaps good for Muslim countries , whose entire social , economic and judicial processes are dependent on the Quran. But they are not necessary for Sri Lanka or any country in the world with a small resident Muslim Community. We have had a good example of the short coming of the Sharia Law in the recent beheading of Rizana Nafeek. She had no translator to represent her in the Sharia Courts. There was no post mortem on the body of the dead baby. There was a complete absence of transparency. There was no witness. There was no lawyer to defend her. Is that the Sharia law ?Hameed Abdul Karim defends what he cannot defend in saying, “I am not an expert on Sharia but I think she is absolutely off the mark when she says that a non-Muslim cannot appear in Sharia courts to give evidence. ”
Hameed is just groping in the dark making meaningless remarks such as “I think she is absolutely off the mark” trying to defend the Sharia law which he himself admits to know nothing about. This they call is an argument for argument’s sake. The Sri Lanka Muslims should remain what they had always been without allowing themselves to be caught by the foreign Islamic fundamentalist forces, becoming pawns in their hands.
Even if all the Muslims in Sri Lanka were to be carried away by the Islamic fundamentalist forces there will be at least one Muslim family in Sri Lanka which will not give into fundamentalism to accept the Sharia Law - the family of late Rizana Nafeek.
As it had been pointed out in Shenali Waduge’s article we cannot understand why the Muslims in Sri Lanka who have an identity of their own as Sri Lankan Muslims suddenly taken to establishment of Sharia Courts and halaal food labelling. Even if the Muslims in Sri Lanka followed these from the beginning of time, they had been doing it without being a “nuisance” to others. It is only now that they make a hue and cry about it, trying to impose it on non believing compatriots.
These are irksome matters where the Muslims claim a different identity when the need is for reconciliation and living with harmony with all communities. It is ridiculous to call it “ Islamaphobie” when some one sees danger signals in new format of religious evolutions that do not augur well for Sinhala Buddhists, and the country as a whole.
It is normal that people like Hameed Abdul Karim may take offence, but some one has to give warning signals, if there is danger for others. Hameed Abdul Karim has tried to answer some of the questions , but the situation cannot be settled by taking offence over real facts highlighted in Shenali Waduge’s article.
These matters are serious, the article of Shenali W aduge should not be read and forgotten, as it is necessary that the Sinhala Buddhist Leaders awaken to the danger and begin a movement like the Bauddha Jathika Balavegaya of late Mr. L.H.Mettananda, to react to the situation without allowing it to take a larger proportion, and go out of control.